Skip to main content

Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

See other formats

KARNAK DAYS                           21 j
of divine Osiris himself. Across the threshold, I found myself in an oblong portico whose coloured and much-inscribed roof was supported by two handsome, reeded and flowered columns, each of which was surmounted by Hathor's staring face. In the east wall were two small windows with stone gratings, but the dim light which infiltrated through them was no longer needed; for three large blocks had disappeared from the stone roof, and through this hole came light a-plenty.
Beyond this was a small vestibule whose walls were covered with bold bas-reliefs and vertical lines of hieroglyphs. And— a rare sight in the ruinous condition of most other temples still standing—three perfectly preserved doorways led out of the end and side walls of this tiny vestibule. Each lintel was topped by an architrave formed of a line of more than twenty stately cobras. The serpents were not mere half-reliefs chiselled into the surface of the wall, but solid sculptures; their heads were raised and their hoods outstretched. The familiar emblem of the winged sun rested on a shelf below each line, the whole forming a massive adornment nearly one yard high.
These royal cobra adornments indicated, to my mind, that the three chambers to which the doorways gave access possessed considerable importance in the temple plan. I passed through the doorway at the farther end (the doors themselves no longer exist, although the top and bottom sockets into which the posts were fitted can clearly be seen) and reached a little shrine whose sides depicted the king at worship as well as the standard of the goddess Hathor. Below this yawned a large gap in the stone flooring, which was revealed under torchlight as the broken entrance to an underground crypt. I again examined the two side chambers there and found holes in the corners, which led down to the same crypt, as well as to an underground passage. Indeed, the entire place was honeycombed with subterranean vaults and corridors; on the right of the portico, I discovered two other floor-gaps, opening above narrow passages whose dust was entirely untrodden.
Exploration revealed that one of these passages actually traversed the ground until it reached the temple of Khonst7. itself.
The entire floor of the temple was so thickly covered with dust that one must infer the pile to have formed through many centuries. I examined the ancient stone floor for human tracks, but, apart from the imprint of naked feet, evidently those of the